7-Eleven operator faces Court over underpayments

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal proceedings against a 7-Eleven retail store in Sydney which allegedly underpaid two migrant employees almost $50,000 and created erroneous records for the workers.

Facing the Federal Circuit Court is Harmandeep Singh Sarkaria, who owns and operates the 7-Eleven outlet at 354 Flushcombe Road in Blacktown. Also facing court is Mr Sarkaria's company, Amritsaria Four Pty Ltd.

Mr Sarkaria and his company allegedly underpaid two console operators a total of $49,426.

Most of the alleged underpayment relates to a migrant employee from Pakistan aged in his late 30s, allegedly short-changed a total of $43,633 between March, 2012 and March, 2014.

The other employee, also from Pakistan and aged in his mid-20s, was on an international student visa when he started working at the store. Now a permanent resident of Australia, he was also allegedly underpaid $5793 between August, 2013 and March, 2014.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims the alleged underpayments are the result of the workers often being paid rates equivalent to $10 an hour.

The employees were entitled to receive normal hourly rates of more $22 an hour and up to $29.27 an hour for some weekend, public holiday and overtime shifts.

Amritsaria Four Pty Ltd allegedly made erroneous entries into the 7-Eleven head office payroll system that significantly understated the hours the employees had worked.

The company also allegedly routinely made entries that the employees had worked only 10 hours a week, despite them working significantly more hours.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims the erroneous entries gave the appearance that the employees were paid about $25 an hour. 

Fair Work inspectors investigating the underpayments were allegedly provided with false time-and-wages sheets that understated the hours the employees had worked.

Mr Sarkariao and his company face  penalties of up to $54,000 per breach.

Source: Fair Work Ombudsman Media Release 31/8/2015

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